Thayer says horse industry should push for guaranteed revenue from casinos even with issue 'losing steam'

05/28/2014 12:27 PM

Horse race tracks should hold firm and insist on a constitutional amendment to allow casinos that designates some of the proceeds to go to the horse industry, Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said.

Thayer, one of the leading Republicans who has pushed for casinos, said he primarily in favor of casinos as a way to help the industry inflate purses for races and breeding funds as incentives for horse farms to stay in Kentucky.

“I believe there should be a protection that says a portion of the gross gaming revenue should be dedicated to purses and breeders’ incentives in the constitution so what’s happened in Canada and Pennsylvania and Delaware and West Virginia and other places wouldn’t happen here,” Thayer said at 4:00 of the interview.

Politically, though, it’s been hard to get the horse industry on the same page. Keeneland in Lexington was the lone holdout among the tracks this year calling for a specific designation in the language of the constitutional amendment to benefit the horse industry.

The other tracks got behind what were billed as “simpler” amendments that would have given the General Assembly authority to allow casinos, but the details of dividing up the proceeds would have been taken care of in separate pieces of legislation.

That’s not good enough, Thayer said.

Overall, Thayer said he’s not hopeful about passing a casino measure.

“I think the expanded gambling debate is losing steam,” Thayer said because the votes just don’t seem to be there. (1:30)

The interview was recorded before the primary elections in which Max Wise beat Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello. Gregory was a hard no-vote on casinos. Wise has said he opposes them but wants voters to get a chance to put the issue to rest once and for all.

Two other Republicans who are open to casinos advanced to the general election to replace two other no votes on casinos, Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, and Sen. Katie Stine, R-Louisville.

Still, that might only get senators to 20 of the 23 votes needed for a constitutional amendment to pass the upper chamber.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.